Teaching is a tough job. You have to deal with the bureaucracy of the school system, create lesson plans, and work under an often-strained budget — all while making sure your students are getting everything they need to become productive, lifelong learners. But figuring out exactly what your students need is typically easier said than done.
For one thing, many students don”t know how to articulate their own needs more generally, much less how to communicate those needs to an adult. This can lead to a teacher-student disconnect, and that ultimately puts students at a disadvantage.
In order to bridge that gap, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz of Doull Elementary in Denver, Colorado, created a project for her students. The students were asked to write down everything they wished Schwartz knew about their home, school, and social lives. They could submit these confessions anonymously if they chose.
Many of Schwartz”s students come from less privileged backgrounds, and as a new teacher, she says she struggled to understand where they were coming from. Her project allowed her to get closer to their realities so that she could help them get what they needed.
To her surprise, she found that the kids didn”t feel the need to be anonymous, and that they actually enjoyed sharing personal stories with her and their fellow students.
Schwartz also began posting her students” notes to Twitter under the hashtag IWishMyTeacherKnew. Through the notes, she learned about her students” needs, both material and otherwise.
Other teachers soon learned about the project and began implementing it themselves, posting their own results. Teachers across the country found it to be a great way to see what their kids really needed. It”s also a safe way for kids to open up about any anxieties they might be feeling about their school and home lives.
These notes — probably from older students — show their deeper educational and emotional needs. Their frank, direct statements are touching.
Sometimes the notes can be funny, too!
(via Elite Daily, ABC News)
These notes not only helped Schwartz in her quest to support her students, but it helped the students support each other, too. “Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson,” she says. “After one student shared that she had no one to play with at recess, the rest of the class chimed in and said, “We got your back.” The next day during recess, I noticed she was playing with a group of girls.”
Schwartz is also hoping that this exercise can extend its reach to the students” families, and put them in contact with any support systems they might need.